BATUMI, Georgia -- After days of travel across the Black Sea, European Active Set equipment arrived May 4, 2016 and will soon be fully engaged in the largest annual training exercise between U.S. and Georgian forces.

The exercise, Noble Partner, is a reoccurring training event that takes place at Vaziani Training Area, Georgia. This year, the exercise is scheduled to take place May 11 to 26 and will include approximately 1300 participants from the U.S., Georgia and the U.K.

"The exercise is increasing capabilities from the previous year and also allows us to develop interoperability of these [fighting] systems with the Georgian systems," said Maj. Wayne Dahl, assigned to the Office of DefenseCooperation in Georgia.

Noble Partner 16 is a critical part of Georgia's training for its contribution of a light infantry company to the NATO Response Force (NRF) and enhances Georgian territorial self-defense capability.

Customs and immigration officers were quickly onboard as the ship docked, making their way around each piece of equipment to ensure safety and that proper procedures had been followed.

"We make sure that any piece of equipment or and supplies is being properly declared on the NATO forms and the clear the forms with host nation's customs," said Spc. Adriana Valazquez, a customs clearance officer assigned to 361st Movement Control Team. "It is very important because we want to make sure that we move any equipment fast and ready all of the time to accomplish our missions."

After clearing customs, truck drivers and train engine operators offloaded the equipment from multiple decks of the ship, a task that requires a nearly 50-foot by eight-foot open elevator to raise and lower cargo.

This venture across the Black Sea marks the first time that the M1A2 Main Battle Tank has been deployed to Georgia.

The tank will be used in live fire training exercises integrating the participating nations and ensuring their ability to work together.

In addition to operational objectives, the three-week exercise here has long-term strategic objectives.

Noble Partner emphasizes U.S. Army Europe's abilities to quickly move soldiers and equipment throughout Europe and operate together within a coalition in any potential future operation. Because of the unique forward location of U.S. Army Europe, over time we have built many such strong relationships, including this relationship with our Georgian partners.

Participating U.S. forces are members of U.S. Army Europe, elements of the U.S.-based Regionally Allocated Force 1st Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, contribution to NATO Response Force 2016 and the Georgia State Army and Air National Guard.

U.S. National Guard will also be participating, which includes three C-130 "Hercules" aircraft from the 165 Airlift Wing, Georgia Air National Guard.

Over the training course, participants will take part in situational training exercises, a field training exercise and a final live fire exercise.

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About Us: U.S. Army Europe is uniquely positioned in its 51-country area of responsibility to advance American strategic interests in Europe and Eurasia. The relationships built during the more than 1,000 theater security cooperation events, held in more than 40 countries each year, lead directly to support for multinational contingency operations around the world, strengthen regional partnerships and enhance global security.